Publikujemy (gr. drama), rodzaj literacki (obok epiki i liryki), obejmuj... More Mario Frattiego w wersji oryginalnej (Copyright autora). Wcześniej opublikowaliśmy w numerze 3 Yoricka jednoaktówkę tegoż autora "Ślepota" ("Blindness") w tłum. Tomasza Miłkowskiego.
By Mario Fratti • Copyright © 1997-2007
The persons: OTTO, a victim of A.I.D.S.; EVAN, his best friend. The scene; today, in New York; a hospital room; the window is open. OTTO is looking with curiosity outside, through a glass-door; he is very sick, very weak; he suddenly turns to run back to his bed; he moves anyhow with difficulty, with pain: he must have seen someone approaching the door. EVAN, his best friend, enters the room.
EVAN: (alarmed, helping him) What are you doing? Why are you up? You shouldn’t, you know that… You are too weak… (he succeeds in helping him back into the bed: a silence)
How do you feel today? (a vague gesture: OTTO indicates that he feels “so-so”) You’re so pale, breathless. Why did you get up? Just call the nurse, if you need something… (kindly) Do you need anything? Water, orange juice?.,. (OTTO indicates he needs nothing; a silence) I’m late today because of the traffic, because of our Parade… Do you remember last year? We were together, hand in hand, happy, proud of being in that Parade, of our relationship, of our… (he takes his hand: he hesitates)… love.
OTTO: Who was there?
EVAN: Everybody… Jim, Rudolph, Tony, Michael, Pablo… a group of senior citizens, some couples— proud parents of “gays”—… policemen, soldiers—men and women—… A poster read: “Protect our Embassies with “gay” soldiers. You can trust only them.” (OTTO smiles) They were all amused by it and they applauded with enthusiasm. You see? Our sense of humor is not dead.
OTTO: (with a touch of sadness) That will never die, fortunately. (a silence) Who was in the parade—from our bunch?
EVAN: Couples … Jim and Rudolph, Tony and Pablo, Mark and Phil… Fat Rose and her new girl friend…
EVAN: I didn’t see him.
EVAN: Yes… In a wheel-chair… Moses was pushing him …
EVAN: (after a hesitation) I was told he went home… to his mother.
OTTO: How is he?
EVAN: (carefully) Not too well… They say it’s the end… One more week, maybe…
OTTO: What about Conrad? Is he with him? Was he allowed to—?
EVAN: (interrupting) I went to his funeral, yesterday…
OTTO: Why didn’t you tell me?
EVAN: It’s not easy to tell a friend that—
OTTO: —That we are all dying, one after the other, implacably?
EVAN: It’s not true… I’m still “negative.”
OTTO: For how long? (a brief silence) I’m sorry…
EVAN: For ever, I hope.
OTTO: I hope so too. For me … It’s over. (suddenly; surprising EVAN) What was that doctor telling you, in the corridor?
EVAN: (surprised, hesitating) Hah… He is the hospital director…
OTTO: What did he want from you?
EVAN: The kind of guy who knows everything and likes to talk. Medicines, complications, costs, last gossip from Europe … (OTTO studies him) It seems a huge number of heterosexuals are getting it now. More and more. Especially in Africa. More than thirty per cent are heterosexuals there. Thirty percent, drug-addicts… Prostitutes, two out of three … The pimps are furious. No business. They beat the poor girls up. One of them—just sixteen—was found with her throat cut—
OTTO: (interrupting) What did he say about me?
EVAN: He knows all the details, every case. He told me the poor fellow in the next room is in bad shape. Ten more days, at most…
OTTO: (Insisting) What did he say about me?
EVAN: Your case is not as desperate as—
OTTO: How long?
EVAN: … much longer. He was telling me that—
OTTO: (interrupting) One month? Two months?
EVAN: (avoiding)… He was mentioning prices, costs…The Hospital is spending more than twelve thousand dollars for the ten days your neighbor has got—
OTTO: What about me? How many more weeks?
EVAN: Months… He said you’ve got months, many—
OTTO: How many?
EVAN: (hesitating)… Eight, at least…
OTTO: Are you lying to me?
EVAN: No… I’m not.
OTTO: Out of friendship?
EVAN: Out of love, you mean? (kisses his hand)
OTTO: Are you lying to me, “out of love?”
EVAN: No… We have always been honest with each other…
OTTO: I know. (he studies him) But I know you too well not to sense that you’re hiding something…
EVAN: Why? If you had only ten days or ten weeks, why would I lie to you? It’s always better to know.
OTTO: It’s better. Tell me everything.
EVAN: I swear it on our relationship, on the wonderful memories we share.
OTTO: Eight months?
EVAN: At least—he said. Cross my heart. (a silence)
OTTO: You’re hiding something else, then… What?
EVAN: (uncertain) No… I don’t…
OTTO: Who else died?
(EVAN hands him a newspaper, open on the obits.)
EVAN: (while OTTO is reading) Three more. (OTTO reads carefully) A strange trio… A priest, a dancer and a doctor… Read the one about the doctor.
OTTO: Someone we know?
OTTO: (reading carefully) Are they blaming us?
OTTO: (still reading) We are lucky this time… They blame us for everything… (discovering something) Hah.
EVAN: He showed guts, didn’t he?
OTTO: He is not the first one. (he thinks; reflects)
EVAN: (curious) What are you thinking about?
OTTO: How he did it. Just a plunge into nothingness.
EVAN: He wanted to avoid the agony of the last days… You should see the guy in room 911… Frightening.
OTTO: To whom?
EVAN: (uneasy) To those who see him… Orderlies, friends …
OTTO: Does he still have friends? I never saw anyone visiting him.
EVAN: He’s not from around here. He comes from Texas. (a silence: they stare at each other)
OTTO: What are you thinking about?
EVAN: (vague) Nothing.
OTTO: If you’re getting bored, just go.
EVAN: Me, bored? With you? Never!
OTTO: Maybe you’ve something to do, something urgent.
EVAN: Nothing, absolutely nothing. I can stay here the whole afternoon. For as long as they allow me. Until they kick me out. (a pause)
OTTO: I know you’re hiding something from me.
EVAN: You know? What do you know? Who told you?
OTTO: I saw.
EVAN: What did you see?
OTTO: Outside, in the corridor.
EVAN: What did you see?
OTTO: That doctor—the director—gave you an envelope. What kind of envelope? Another bill?
EVAN: Oh no! They know we can’t afford it any longer. You’ve sold your apartment, paintings, your furniture. They can’t force me to sell anything… (smiling bitterly) I am not—according to the Law—a relative. What an irony! I am your most intimate friend and I’m not considered part of the family!
OTTO: Maybe they’re blackmailing you. Either you pay or…?
EVAN: Or…? What can they do to me?
OTTO: Nothing to you. Maybe to me …
EVAN: What? (joking) Poison you?
OTTO: Throw me into the street. There are so many sick people…
Homeless, in the streets of New York.
EVAN: They can’t do that to you. I’m around. I’ll defend you. The ones they kicked out had no one to protect them, to defend them.
OTTO: (suddenly, again; a precise question) What’s in that envelope?
EVAN: (vague) Figures, statistics. He explained that each one of you costs more than one thousand dollars a day to the Hospital. They are afraid to go bankrupt. (Ironical) They deserve to. They should. They are only interested in “profits.”
OTTO: (thinking it over, calculating in his mind) Six months … If it’s true, it’s over two hundred thousand dollars…
EVAN: It’s what they say. They always exaggerate.
OTTO: Do you agree on that figure?
EVAN: (uncertain) Well… Many papers mention that figure. It must be true… One thousand a day, at least.
OTTO: All right. Show me those statistics, that envelope. You know I love numbers.
EVAN: (trying to change the subject) What’s OUR number?
OTTO: (with a touch of sadness) Eight… I should have at least eight months. If there were any justice in this world… (they smile)
EVAN: We met on the eighth—your birthday… We were both born in August—the eighth month. When traveling, we always asked for the eighth floor—a room containing number eight… The first months we always exchanged gifts on the eight—
OTTO: Only the first months.
EVAN: Then we decided together—full agreement—to stop… Too many neckties, shirts, underwear, chocolates… We decided to lose weight, remember?
OTTO: (with a sense of humor) I succeeded, look at me. I’ve lost forty-nine pounds. (EVAN, moved, kisses his forehead)
EVAN: You told me: forty-eight.
OTTO: That was yesterday. (a silence)
OTTO: (insisting) What’s in that envelope?
EVAN: (hesitating) It will seem strange, to you … A check.
OTTO: (surprised) A check? What happened? They feel guilty, all of a sudden, and they are reimbursing us? You see? There is some justice in this world! And I should be ashamed of myself I was in such a hurry to condemn hospitals and society! How much are we getting back? Did they admit they overcharged? (a silence; EVAN is motionless) Let me see. I’ll figure everything in three minutes. How much we paid, how much we are getting back; and if they are shortchanging us.
EVAN (hesitating) It’s no reimbursement.
OTTO: What is it, then? Some award for good behavior? I’m no trouble here. I’m as quiet as a little tiny mouse.
EVAN: (carefully) An unusual, weird… proposal.
OTTO: Is it money or a proposal?
OTTO: That is?
EVAN: A certain amount if… the proposal is… acceptable.
OTTO: How much?
EVAN: …Twenty thousand.
OTTO: (very surprised) That’s a fortune, for us. What kind of proposal? Did you accept it? Say “yes” right away. We need that money.
EVAN: The proposal is … absurd.
OTTO: Accept it all the same. What’s important today is that money.
In my will there is nothing left for you. What do they want from us? What must we do?
EVAN: The money is not for us. It’s for the A.I.D.S. Foundation.
OTTO: (surprised) Hah… That’s strange… His personal gift?
Who caught A.I.D.S.? His son? His brother?
EVAN: It’s not a personal gift… It comes from a Bank. Some special fund…
OTTO: For what? What purpose? A moral crisis? Guilt? Are they ashamed they’re charging one thousand dollars a day for a dump like this? (a pause) Explain the proposal. (a pause)
Am I part of it? (Evan nods. He finally shows the envelope: he is ready to tear it up.)
EVAN: Let’s tear it up and forget the whole thing.
OTTO: (intervening) No! You can’t throw away twenty thousand like that… I must know. I’m involved in this. It’s about me too—you said so.
EVAN: (slowly, carefully) You know how they think—these Hospital Directors… They’re just accountants… They figure out the best budget, they are afraid to be fired if they don’t make a profit…
OTTO: What did he tell you?
EVAN: (uncertain, slowly) That… as a rule… because of… considering …(he cannot express himself clearly)
OTTO: Tell me something. Did he give the same proposal to the guy next door—the one who has just ten days left?
OTTO: (slowly) I begin to understand… That proposal is only for the ones who have eight more months to live. (EVAN does not dare look into his eyes: he knows OTTO has understood.) The pills? Did he give you the pills?
EVAN: What pills?
OTTO: The poison you’re supposed to give me.
EVAN: Oh no! The situation is … optional, absolutely optional.
OTTO: All right. I’ll volunteer for it! Where are the pills? I’ll take them voluntarily.
EVAN: No pills. He doesn’t supply anything.
OTTO: (ironical) What a gentleman!
EVAN: He does not want to be involved in…
EVAN: He is being… correct, in a way.
OTTO: Very correct.
EVAN: He explained—with polite detachment—advantages and disadvantages.
OTTO: Tell me about the disadvantages.
EVAN: The last days are… terrible.
OTTO: (bitterly ironical) I know. An infernal agony. I thought about it.
EVAN: About what?
OTTO: The agony. How to avoid it. (a silence: they look at each other) As you can see, they have read my thoughts, they have guessed.
EVAN: Guessed what?
OTTO: That I don’t want that agony… That doctor (indicates the newspaper)—his method—a sudden jump from the tenth floor… I thought about that a thousand times… (they both stare at the window; a painful silence) Show me the check.
EVAN: (handing him the envelope) Here it is… (OTTO opens the envelope and stares al the check.) Tear it up.
OTTO: It is not made out to anyone…
EVAN: Tear it up!
OTTO: To whom should we… make it out, in his opinion?
EVAN: Give it to me. I’ll tear it up myself.
OTTO: (insisting) To whom?
EVAN: (after a pause) To the A.I.D.S. Foundation.
OTTO: (slowly. staring at EVAN) No…
EVAN: Let’s destroy it!
OTTO: He gave you a choice, obviously.
EVAN: What choice?
OTTO: (slowly, studying him) You could put your name, here …
EVAN: No! Never!
OTTO: (calm; determined) It is my last desire … You cannot say no to my last wish… You MUST put your name here… it is for you… (EVAN, tears in his eyes, shakes his head.)
EVAN: No… No …
OTTO: YOU MUST… It’s my last gift, to you…
(They hold hands tightly, desperately. EVAN kisses OTTO’s hand. They both stare at the open window. A spotlight illuminates the window. Tableau. Blackout.)